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Celebrating Volunteers Who Support Vulnerable Communities amidst Pandemic

Early last year, in the first lockdown, Uganda was hit hard as many people living with HIV missed their medication refills affecting their adherence to medicine, yet another big number of people reported developing mental health challenges and couldn’t access care.

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While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed or even halted a lot of activities in the community especially with extreme social distancing measures, more than 200 volunteers continued providing psycho-social support to refugees, people living with HIV and the poverty-stricken.

Agnes Eriosi Nantaba, a Public Relations Manager at the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) told URN that even with the lockdown, up to 250 volunteers who work as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and clinical officers forged ways to continue reaching the community where they continued providing care remotely via teleconferencing. 

These were  the focus of celebration on Thursday as Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Humanitarian Day that happens annually on August 19. 

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Early last year, in the first lockdown, Uganda was hit hard as many people living with HIV missed their medication refills affecting their adherence to medicine, yet another big number of people reported developing mental health challenges and couldn’t access care.

Nantaba says their team of volunteers learnt from that experience and once the second wave hit and a lockdown was declared in June they were already handed with solutions on how to keep people posted on their treatment interventions.  

She says all these efforts including visits to community members were done on humanitarian grounds.  They focused on providing HIV drug refills and care to sex workers, children and the impoverished.

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Cue out… are poverty-stricken.”//    

TPO Country Director Patrick Sambaga says that  last year had been particularly challenging for humanitarian and front-line workers with many of them getting infected with COVID-19 in line of duty.

“We recognize the tireless commitment of these individuals who put the lives of others before their own and persist in their life-saving work despite the growing risks to their own health and safety especially with the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted 

One of the humanitarian workers Milly Nancy Lagu, a South Sudanese National based in Kiryandongo refugee settlement camp says she was motivated to keep going due to the prevalent Sexual and Gender-based violence that displaced people face.

However, Amudu Jean Pierre a refugee from DR Congo says even some people have come out to voluntarily provide psychosocial support to especially the refugees, there’s a gap that remains unfilled considering that some leave their mother countries psychologically tortured. 

He calls for more interventions into psycho-social support.        

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